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National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times§

Professor Simo Parpola, (University of Helsinki) The Neo-Assyrian kings pursued an active policy of nation building, whereby the citizenship of Assyria was routinely granted to the inhabitants of newly established provinces. As a result of this, by 600 BC the entire vastly expanded country shared the Assyrian identity, which essentially consisted of a common unifying language (Aramaic) and a common religion, culture, and value system. This identity persisted virtually unchanged and was converted into an ethnic identity in the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid periods (600-330 BC). After the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire (130 BC), several semi-independent Mesopotamian kingdoms (Osrhoene, Adiabene, Hatra, Assur) perpetuated Assyrian religious and cultural traditions until the third century AD. From the fourth century on, Christianity has been an essential part of Assyrian identity and has helped preserve it to the present day despite endless persecutions and massacres, which have reduced the present-day Assyrians into dwindling minorities in their home countries. The self-designations of modern Syriacs and Assyrians derive from the Neo-Assyrian word for “Assyrian”, Assūrāyu/Sūrāyu.

Introduction
The Neo-Assyrian Empire (934-609 BC) was a multi-ethnic state composed of many peoples and tribes of different origins.1 Its ethnic diversity notwithstanding, it was a uniformly structured political entity with well-defined 2 and well-guarded borders, and the Assyrian kings certainly regarded it as a
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An earlier version of this article was presented at the 48th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Leiden 2002, devoted to the theme “Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia”. I wish to thank Edward Y. Odisho for useful comments on a preliminary draft of the present version. For the bibliographical abbreviations see H. D. Baker (ed.), The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (= PNA), Vol. 2/II, Helsinki 2001, B28-32. Cf. Postgate 1989. I find Postgate’s characterization of Assyria as a “multi-racial” state not quite appropriate and prefer the term “multi-ethnic”. The “border” or “territory” (mişru, tahūmu) of Assyria is referred to over 300 times in Neo-Assyrian sources; “crossing” or “violating” it is referred to 15 times. The frontiers of the country were heavily garrisoned (Parker 1997) and their crossing points well guarded (see, e.g., SAA 1 186-187 and NL 40; SAA 16 148). Extradition of fugitives and political refugees from Assyria was a standard clause in NeoAssyrian treaties and a recurrent topic in Neo-Assyrian administrative 5

it must have appeared as a uniform. By “national identity” I understand “national collective identity” in the sense of Hall 1999. 5 3 4 5 6 7 .aš-šur.MEŠ) are referred to by name.6 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies.KI. a stamp collector. whose territory they constantly strove to 3 expand. both Assyrian and postAssyrian. The Role of Ethnicity in Multi-ethnic States Contrary to what one might be prone to think. 18. may start developing a 7 secondary American identity. but they still (often subconsciously) maintain a strong ethnic identity. 23)—one could add.g.. In ABL 1430. I believe that such identities already existed in ancient societies. “the land of Aššur”. eight Assyrians (LÚ. Cf. identifying with the ideals and ways of life of the Assyrian ruling class. However. Ethnic identity naturally constitutes only one of the several secondary identities an individual may have. e. in addition to their national 6 identity. who were born in the country. or did they rather identify themselves in terms of their diverse ethnic origins. Alba 1990. 50. By “ethnic identity” I understand. just how far did the masses of the Empire's population actually share the Assyrian identity? Did they consider themselves as members of the Assyrian nation. but differently from Hall. The relevant contexts make it clear that the term “territory of Assyria” denoted areas permanently incorporated into the provincial system of Assyria. 47-48. long before the rise of nineteenth-century nationalism (see below). Kivisto and Blanck 1990. and many other things. Sabini. 1. 115. 41.. loathing and resenting the Assyrian rule and way of life? I shall try to answer these questions by first considering the matter briefly from a theoretical perspective and then reviewing the available evidence. nor does the former depend on the latter (or vice versa). a father. monolithic whole. 3 being a NB rendering of NA /Ubru-Šamaš/). To take an obvious example. “An individual can be simultaneously a male. Most citizens of multi-ethnic states have. To the outside world. city or city quarter. national and ethnic identities are not mutually exclusive. see also below. 25. Tadmor 1999. Their children. a letter from Babylonia from the time of Assurbanipal. Vol. an individual's subjective orientation toward his or her ethnic origins. Vassady 1989. having been exposed as children to their parents’ native language and correspondence. as opposed to non-annexed vassal or allied states. Sameš-idri). 2004 unified whole. in detail. a Catholic. which had borders of their own. no. are Americans by birth. 205-207. 2. Isaiah 7:18-20 and 8:7. and a plumber” (Alba 1990. first-generation American immigrants generally maintain a strong attachment to their home countries but. Many people are strongly attached to a particular family. a Polish American. one or more secondary ethnic identities. three of the names are Aramaic (Idriya. after many years in the country. the rest are Akkadian (UbarSayasu in rev. contra Hansen 1937b [1990]. whose inhabitants were unhesitatingly identified as Assyrians regardless 4 of their ethnic backgrounds. with Alba 1990.

Hall 1999. L. Arabs. 27. His famous thesis of a third-generation return to ethnicity (“What the son wishes to forget. 64 and 68. he (or she) becomes a fully integrated 10 member of the society and. 194). and has internalized its customs. Hansen (1937a) argued that the second generation. It is also related to social discrimination and persecution. how far these ethnic names and labels actually reflect 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 See Alba 1990. did their utmost to forget their ethnic heritage. keenly aware of the contempt in which the foreign accents and customs of their parents were held. “Nothing is more Yankee than a Yankeeized person of foreign descent” (1937a [1990]. 34-36. ethnic consciousness recedes 9 to the background. Hall 1999. In the third generation and later. The moment an individual fully masters the language of the country he (or she) lives in. 2. . 8 7 cultural heritage. there cannot be any question that it was and remained a multi-ethnic society. Hansen postulated a general resurgence of ethnic consciousness in the third generation. 29 and 55. 22. 34. Anatolians and Iranians on the basis of their names or the ethnic labels attached to them.. Nineveh. but it cannot halt. The development of national identity thus goes hand in hand with language acquisition and social integration. The presence of ethnic communities in the host country may help maintain the ethnic identities of immigrants and their descendants.. related to education so that educated people may cultivate an inherited or adopted ethnic identity long 13 after the critical three-generation limit. the grandson wishes to remember”. Alba 1990. shares its collective identity. see Kivisto and Blanck 1990. passim.g. The Shaping of Assyrian Identity in the First Millennium BC To return now to Assyria. consciously or not. See. In his words. and many of its ethnic minorities seem to have retained their identities (at least to some extent) till the very end of the Empire. however. slow down or reverse the 12 assimilation process. Israelites. legal documents from Assur. The whole process takes a maximum of three generations to complete and is by 11 no means limited to the United States only but is universal. however. Kivisto and Blanck 1990. Alba 1990. and Dur-Katlimmu on the Habur dating from the last decades of the Empire mention numerous Assyrian citizens identified or identifiable as Egyptians. M. Cf. especially the on pp. Deniz 1999. Ethnic consciousness is. However. 195) is. not borne out by facts. It is questionable. this view needs tempering as too extreme. For example. values and religious beliefs. Odisho 1999. without necessarily disappearing altogether. so that oppressed and persecuted ethnic minorities may develop 14 stronger identities than undisturbed ones. Hansen 1937a [1990].. Alba 1990. e. traditions. however.National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in. 25. See Kivisto 1989.

affluent individuals in high positions. 13). r. no. within Assyria proper ―was for centuries subject to a continuous and systematic process of assimilation and integration. 15). Am-yadi’. Muşurāyu “Egyptian”. all of them entitled “governor (pāhutu) of Babylon”). Mādāyu “Mede”. but probably much earlier. and the Sealand) were. and see below. Despite several revolts. From the late eighth century BC on. following a pattern already set by Shalmaneser III (858-824) and Adad-nerari III (810-783). Lahiru. ethnonyms like Arbāyu “Arab”. Cf. which functioned as buffer states against Egypt and continued enjoying nominal independence despite recurrent revolts and despite the fact that they had de facto been incorporated into the Assyrian provincial system (Otzen 1979. . the population within the Empire's provincial 18 system―that is. Postgate 1992. r. 66. invaded the country at the invitation of the clergy of Marduk and assumed the kingship of Babylon. see SAA 15 nos. annexed to Assyria as provinces already in the eighth century. 252. Babylonia (actually. 645 (643). son of Manasseh (Radner 2002. son of Same’-Yau (ibid. such as Babylonia. which naturally helped 17 preserve their ethnic identities. Cf. Especially the policy of mass deportations introduced by Ashurnasirpal II and continued on a vastly increased scale by Shalmaneser III. xx-xxiii and xxxviii. however. for the eponym officials of the years 656. 73). On the other hand. Other annexed areas comparable to Babylonia were the Philistine city states and the kingdom of Judah. 18. If this was part of Esarhaddon's reconciliatory Babylonian policy (Porter 1993.8 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. son of Ahzi-Yau (ibid. Gitin 1995). 2. Vol. it is an undeniable fact that from the latter part of the second millennium BC on. 271. 14). and Urarţāyu “Urartian” frequently appear as personal names borne by fully Assyrianized. 2004 15 ethnic consciousness and ethnicity. 255-256. when Tiglath-Pileser III. the country was allowed to remain nominally independent till the end of the Empire. were for political and ideological reasons allowed to keep their traditional institutions and administrative infrastructures. then the reintroduction of an Assyrian pāhutu in 656 may well have triggered the Šamaš-šumu-ukin rebellion (652-648 BC). and the whole country was incorporated into the provincial system in 656 at the latest (see Frame 1992. the governor of Babylon bore the traditional Babylonian title šākin ţēmi (Frame 1992. Adad-milki-ereš. An Assyrian governor of Babylon exercising control over the entire “land of Akkad” is already attested in 710 and probably stayed in office until the last year of Sennacherib (681). Ur. and 633. Der. some nomad tribes and a few ethnic pockets in inaccessible areas within the borders of Assyria may have never been fully brought under Assyrian rule. Under Esarhaddon. Certain parts of the Empire. Thus it would be absurd to claim that every individual or group of people in Assyria shared the Assyrian identity. “the land of Akkad”) de facto became part of Assyria in 731 BC. In addition. Parts of it (Dur-Šarrukku. 38). 37 r. Tiglath-Pileser III and the Sargonid 15 16 17 18 See Zadok 1997. Lawson Younger 2003. no.. 217-238 and the discussion ibid. Dadi-larim. The sons of the three men with Israelite names mentioned in a late seventh-century text from Dur-Katlimmu 16 all had Akkadian or Aramaic names.

R. Aramean scribes writing on papyrus or parchment scrolls beside Assyrian scribes writing on clay tablets or waxed 21 writing-boards are depicted on royal reliefs from the mid-eighth century on. 133. urging inhabitants of a besieged Mannean city to surrender. NWL 9 r. 173. Thureau-Dangin and M. Also note P. 193. Barnett.1 The Aramaization of Assyria In the first place. and pls.. 213. 348.National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in. Albenda. 21 r. 244. 21-32. 790 BC). F. Tadmor 1975. 792-786 BC). Parpola 1997b. Barnett and M.7. reading from a parchment scroll. E. Turner. the Aramaic alphabet had effectively replaced cuneiform as the Empire’s everyday 23 writing system. especially pp. 363 (Sennacherib). The Palace of Sargon King of Assyria (Paris 1986). Nineveh and Babylon (Thames and Hudson 1961). These deportations may originally have had purely political and economic goals. V-VI. See Tadmor 1982. pls. Within a relatively short period of time―already by the middle of the eighth century―Aramaic became established 20 as a common language (lingua franca) throughout the Empire. but in the long run they ended up having far more extensive linguistic. 145 = Albenda. 186. Falkner. Dunand. and the 19 20 21 22 23 Oded 1979. The Sculptures on TiglathPileser III (London 1962). see Tadmor 1991. Concomitantly with this.. mostly in the Assyrian heartland and the big urban centers there. . Palace of Sargon.2 The Assyrianization of the Empire’s Population Secondly. 2. Botta & E. R. Garelli 1982. utterly changed the political. 222. an estimated 4. pls. social and cultural consequences. 787 BC). By about 700 BC. 13:12 (c. mostly Aramaic-speaking people into the Assyrian heartland and the eastern provinces of the Empire. Sculptures from the Southwest Palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh (London 1998). pl. Flandin. 1991. 83. and Aramean scribes working with Assyrian ones are mentioned in 22 administrative documents already half a century earlier.20 (786 BC). Til Barsib (Paris 1936). 17:2 (c. 256 (Assurbanipal). pl.8 (c. 1985. these movements brought hundreds of thousands of foreign. 143. pl. 136 (official.-E. 2.5 million people from all parts of the Empire were removed from their homes and settled 19 elsewhere. Parrot. pl. fig. 9 dynasty. 118-119. 255. Eph‘al 1999. 132. Between 830 and 640 BC. thus turning the previously largely monolingual society of Assyria into a multilingual one. 10 r. P. the massive deportations of foreign people into Assyria. 421f). demographic and linguistic map of the Ancient Near East. the Assyrian administration started using the Aramaic alphabetic script alongside the cuneiform script. L = M. xvi. Monuments de Ninive II (Paris 1849). Bleibtreu and G.

emperor cult. Parpola in press.10 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. for details see Postgate 1974 and 1976. 18. Lipiński 2000. The images of the deported gods either received a permanent new home in Assyria and were incorporated in the pantheon of the Empire. In addition. the two Hundurāya families in Assur discussed by Pedersén 1986. 63-72. no. 548. a uniform calendar. or were recreated in the temple workshops of Assur in Assyrian fashion and returned to the annexed country along with a new theology (Nissinen and Parpola 2004). and establishment of Assyrian cult centers in the rebuilt capital and elsewhere (Cogan 1974. it must have proceeded rapidly in the new provinces as well. the annexation of a rebel country usually involved destruction of its main cult center. which cover . 2004 concomitant reorganization of the conquered areas as Assyrian provinces. Gitin 1995. Postgate 1992. Their sizable archives. Eph‘al and Naveh 1993. and below. were deportees from the Iranian city of Hundur. Kaufman 1972. Levine 2003. It was boosted by intermarriages. 85-95. at the same time as Aramaic developed into the lingua franca of the Empire and the use of the Aramaic alphabet in its administration steadily increased. as they were no longer the countries they used to be.3 The Social and Cultural Homogenization of the Empire The intense acculturation process thus started continued for a period of more than two hundred years. Assyrian royal ideology. 000 and Appendix I. and conscription system. Radner 1999. and other standards. The peoples of 26 the newly established provinces routinely became Assyrian citizens. as 24 well as imperial weights. 2. 2001. 81-91. p. measures. subjected huge numbers of new people to a direct and ever-increasing Assyrian cultural influence. Frame 1997. 25 and the cults of Aššur. Watanabe 2002. building projects and business ventures. While the process of Assyrianization thus put under way undoubtedly worked fastest in the big cities of central Assyria. 2. among other things. This development finds a perfect parallel 24 25 26 27 Parpola 2003b. Ištar. Nabû. religious ideas and mythology were incessantly propagated to all segments of the population through imperial art. As a result. and their populations now included. pillage of its sacred objects and gods. For example. Though people deported to Assyria were not prevented from practicing their religion in their new homeland. Their intelligentsia had been deported to Assyria and replaced with Assyrian administrators. Porter 2000a and 2000b. Garelli 1982. settled in Assur in 714. Sîn and other Assyrian gods. 100101). 61-62. Holloway 2001. in addition to deportees from other parts of the Empire. religious festivals. Parpola 2000a. Pongratz-Leisten 1997. participation in common military expeditions. Parpola 2003b. also considerable numbers of Assyrian immigrants and colonists. This included. judiciary. Winter 1997. the imposition of taxation and military service. their capitals had been razed and rebuilt in Assyrian fashion. Vol. See Oded 1979. and continuous interaction between all segments of population in all aspects of daily life. its originally heterogeneous population became progressively 27 homogeneous socially and culturally. Pedersén 1986.

Parpola in press. governor of Dur-Sin-ahhe-riba. eponym for 684. in detail.g. See. Alba 1990. Milki-Ia. E. Awiyanu. Hybrid patronymics are already found in early eighth-century BC texts from Calah (e. eponym for 689. Parpola in press. Marduk-nadin-ahhe son of Bar-il. 681 BC). Şidqi-il. that of the Egyptian colony at Assur. As in the United States. governor of Til-Barsib. eponym for 668. eponym for 655. Manzarnê. and cf. Sailu. eponym for 667. 105109. Their primary language of the years 681-618 BC.. Milki-ramu. commander-in-chief. governor of Kullania.. Banbâ.National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in. eponym for 692. governor of Harran. governor of Guzana. eponym for 620*. While men with nonAkkadian names only sporadically appear in high state offices in the ninth century. 11 in the social and cultural homogenization of the United States. governor of Barhalzi (SAA 16 29). governor of Que. In the end. Metunu. chief cook.” and La-turammanni-Aššur “Do not forsake me. See further Tadmor 1975 and 1982. Sagabbu. governor of Carchemish. the ethnic origins of the people became largely irrelevant. Gabbaru. governor of Tušhan. The same is true of the other archive discussed by Pedersén (1986. 2. whose leaders had names such as Urdu-Aššur “Servant of Aššur. Atar-il. Mahdê (= Ammi-hatî). cohort commander. governor of Isana.” Kişir-Aššur “Host of Aššur. eponym for 677. Hananu. 441. Garelli 1982. eponym for 656. eponym for 701. governor of Hatarikka. Zazaya. show that in less than one generation. Grand Vizier.4 The Internationalization and Bilingualism of the Assyrian Ruling Class These developments cannot be dissociated from the progressive 29 internationalization of the Neo-Assyrian ruling class. eponym for 700. governor of Talmusa (SAA 691. 125-129). Mar-larim. eponym for 764. governor of Arpad.. as evidenced by the Neo-Assyrian onomastics. Bur-Sagale. they are frequently encountered on all levels of administration in the late 30 eighth and seventh centuries BC. 6.g. Abi-ramu. O Aššur!” Garelli 1982.5 [792 BC]. which includes hundreds of Akkadian names adopted or given to their children by individuals bearing nonAkkadian names. eponym for 763. deputy vizier. Gir-Şapunu. Salamanu son of Libušu. they had become entirely Assyrianized in every respect. Ahi-ila’i. GPA 78 r. eponym for 651. eponym for 660. this process gradually obliterated all tensions that may have originally existed between various ethnic groups. Se’-rapa’. eponym for 673. multilingual and multicultural society into a uniform one through the adoption of a common lingua franca (American English). they dressed and behaved in the Assyrian way. including their names. eponym for 676.. governor of Lahiru. 28 29 30 . and spoke Akkadian and used the cuneiform script as distinctive markers of their social class. ibid. 103:15 [788 BC]). eponym for 649. These newcomers to the ruling class were carefully educated in Mesopotamian literature and culture. Gihilu. which also involved the transformation of an initially multi-ethnic. governor of Nineveh eponym for 725. as well as a fair number of Aramaic names given to their 28 children by parents with Akkadian names. Oded 1979. Zadok 1997.

94. 18. bilingual by the beginning of the seventh century at the very latest All NeoAssyrian kings from Tiglath-Pileser III to Esarhaddon had Aramaic-speaking 31 wives or mothers. and 2 Chron. and there are indications that at least some of them spoke Aramaic as their first language. however. mother of Ahaziah [c. came about only with eighteenth-century nationalism. see Frahm. that the Assyrian ruling class was certainly not totally annihilated at the fall of the Empire. That is why some social historians like Rodney Hall argue that national identities are the product of modern times and did not exist in “territorialsovereign” states. consequently. 17. largely social. which he correctly sees as the necessary precondition for the development of national identity. 2 Kings 11. Cf. see Parpola 2000. The name of Tiglath-Pileser III’s queen. however. no. 2. 4-5. on Naqia (Aram. is derived from the Aramaic verb yhb “to give”. however. that nationalism and the concepts of nation and citizenship are by no means new 31 32 33 34 The name of Sargon’s queen. cf. This dichotomy was. and eventually in the latter as well. Iabâ. PNA 2/II s. 2. Athaliah [‘Ătalyā(hū)]. 73. the queen of Sennacherib and mother of Esarhaddon. however. PNA 1/II 433). National identities. especially those of multi-ethnic states. Ataliā (Kamil 1999. Seventh-century BC Assyria was thus divided into two major language groups: speakers of Aramaic―in practice.12 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. 2.v. accordingly. not cultural. including the royal family. the entire population of the country―and speakers of Akkadian. see Melville 1999 and Streck. was certainly Aramaic. Novák and Younansardaroud 2002. Although Neo-Assyrian certainly continued to be spoken and written in Harran at least 33 until the end of the reign of Nabonidus. Yabâ. and the entire ruling class. Hall believes that the abstract notion of citizenship. 2004 communication. Naqī’a. which dominated the international order prior to the nineteenth century. Vol. and it came to an end with the fall of the 32 Empire and the subsequent massacre of the Assyrian aristocracy. which rely on the “imagined community” of the nation as a legitimizing principle rather than 34 on dynastic legitimizing principles. Aramaic now fast became the only language spoken in Assyria outside the Assyrian heartland. Schaudig 2001. must have been fully . he sees “nation building” as a central characteristic of modern nation-states only. however. Hall 1999.5 The Creation of Assyrian National Identity Ethnic identities develop spontaneously. are consciously and systematically created.v. 22-24). like the rest of the Empire’s. is clearly Hebrew (cf. Note. Grayson 1975. 844/3 BC] and granddaughter of Omri. including the largely bilingual inhabitants of the Assyrian heartland and the fully bilingual ruling class. 188-190. . It should be noted. she almost certainly was a Judahite princess exiled to Assyria after the conquest of Samaria in 722 BC. “pure”). PNA 2/I s.

32). but until the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727) it almost exclusively refers only to people deported to Assyria from annexed countries or cities. the phrase in question is regularly . Streck 1916. 13 phenomena but already played an important role in the ancient world. which also has the variants ba’ulāt Aššūr “subjects of Aššur” (KAV 171:31) and ba’ulāt māt Aššūr “subjects of Assyria” (RIMA 3 7:6. for example. ba’ulātu). As Assyrians they had to pay regular taxes and do the required 35 36 37 38 Cf. 202:1. “people of Assyria”) were semantically equivalent terms.. Assyrian citizens are often referred to as ba’ulāt Illil “subjects of Enlil (or: the God of gods)”. Every new province was turned into an integral part of the original “land of Aššur”.1.v. In the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon. From the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III on. 40. but it grew with the addition of new provinces. ibid. but as nišē māt Aššūr şeher rabi in the inscriptions of Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal (Borger 1956. As regards Assyria specifically. an ideologically loaded phrase going back to the third millennium Akkadian Empire (see CAD s. not only in 35 ancient Athens and Rome but also in ancient Mesopotamia. “the people of God”. For example. 321. identifies the Assyrian citizenry as a religious community. Crawford 1996. 262:7 and 11. Muscarella 1981. SAA 3 32 r. “sons of Assyria”) and nišē māt Aššūr (lit. In NA royal inscriptions and literary texts. the former being the proper NeoAssyrian term for “Assyrian citizens”.g. “land of Aššur”. Coleman 1997. and we can be sure that the Assyrian kings systematically and resolutely strove to unify the multitudes of people ruled by them into a single nation.. Of the early Neo-Assyrian kings. is already attested in the inscriptions of the Middle Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I (1114-1076).15. 4-5). 38 Appendix I). 290 r. the phrase “Assyrian citizens. The very name of the country. CT 53 78+:9.. or simply Aššūrāyē)37 with full civil rights and obligations (cf. high and low” appears as mar’ē māt Aššūr qallu dannu in the Zakutu Treaty (SAA 2 8:8). This phrase. It originally was only a province around the city of Aššur. mara’ māt Aššūr. is contrasted with mara’ māti šanītimma “foreign citizen” (SAA 2 6: 163. 200:18 [Aššūrû]. and their peoples became regular Assyrian citizens (mar’ē or nišē māt Aššūr. only Ashurnasirpal (883-859) explicitly states that he granted Assyrian citizenship to the population of a new province (Māzamua) in its entirety. The gentilic adjective Aššūrāyu is the most common term for “Assyrian(s)” in Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian letters (e. 460 r. “I counted them as citizens of Assyria”. In view of the 36 considerable benefits that came with Roman citizenship. 146:8) and is contrasted with dāgil pāni māt Aššūr “vassal of Assyria” in the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon (SAA 2 6:162). the latter a literary term used only in royal inscriptions. ABL 74:9. Fuchs 1994. 338). it would be absurd to claim that the average Roman citizen did not consider himself Roman or did not share the national collective identity of Rome. 1000 r. mar’ē māt Aššūr (lit. The phrase itti nišē māt Aššūr amnušunūti. 94: 76 [nišē māt Aššūr]. the concept of Assyrian citizenship was central to its expansion. 125:5 [Aššūrāyē].National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in.. “Assyrian citizen”.13. Assyrian citizens settled in newly established provinces are referred to as nišē māt Aššūr or (amīlē) Aššūrāyē “Assyrian (freemen)” in the royal inscriptions (cf.. 520:5. 222. connoted a kingdom of God set apart from the rest of the world. RIMA 2 218:82 and 3 19:34 [amīlē Aššūrāyē]).

14 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. The long-term strategic goal of Assyria thus was not the creation of an empire upheld by arms. the great healer. this goal was achieved through a systematically implemented assimilation and integration policy geared to delete the ethnic identities of the conquered peoples and to replace them with an Assyrian one. He is almost certainly identical with the author of the Babylonian 39 40 41 42 43 . the good shepherd 41 that loved and protected his sheep and guided them to the right path. indistinguishable from their fellow citizens. was the bond that united the nation by virtue of his role as helper in distress. remains in the Neo-Assyrian sources. They now were in every respect ethnic Assyrians. Hence granting Assyrian citizenship to inhabitants of newly established provinces certainly was a standard procedure under Tiglath-Pileser III. almost all provinces and dependencies of Assyria including the Levant had been Assyrian territory for more than a hundred years. The king. xxxvi-xliv. The word Aššūru occurring in the corvée and taxation clause is a collective noun meaning “Assyrian(s)” at large. By the end of the seventh century BC. Röllig 1996. but a nation united by a semi-divine king perceived as the source of safety. but his name and several Babylonianisms in his language show that he was originally a Babylonian. and even though relevant evidence is lacking. they got safety and prosperity. were equal before the law. except 42 for a few garbled personal names. the sun of his people. corvée and taxation. 2004 military and labor service. His cultural milieu was pluralistic tied to the conversion of a country into an Assyrian province and the imposition of Assyrian military service. it is absolutely unthinkable that the average Assyrian citizen living in the late seventh century could have regarded 43 himself (or herself) as anything but Assyrian. and is in complementary distribution with the phrase ana mişir māt Aššūr amnu. Annus 2002. Parpola 1997. but in return. He writes in fluent Neo-Assyrian. The efficacy of this policy is strikingly demonstrated by the fate of the tens of thousands of Hurrians who were deported from their homeland and resettled in Assyria in the Middle Assyrian period. and relates to the (much more common) gentilic Aššūrāyu in the same way as the noun Arubu “Arab(s)” relates to the Arbāyu “Arabian/Arabic” and Arumu “Aramean(s)” to Armāyu “Aramean/Aramaic”. peace and prosperity. the descendants of these people had been so completely absorbed into the Assyrian society that no trace of their Hurrian ancestry. He was the rescuer of the weak and the destitute. a loyal Assyrian official in Phoenicia under Assurbanipal. Itti-Šamaš-balāţu. A telling example is the author of SAA 16 126-129. Vol. As we have seen. who ruled as a chosen Son of God. probably already much earlier. “I counted it into Assyrian territory”. Keeping in mind that ethnic identities in multi-ethnic societies universally start declining already in the second generation. A few centuries later. Postgate 1974 and 1975. Parpola 2001. 2. and could appeal directly to the Great King in case of dire 39 40 need. no. 18. most of them for hundreds of years (see Appendix II).

e. and spoke the same national language. True. which saw Assyria as the kingdom of God 46 commissioned to spread the light of civilization to the world surrounding it. 17-18. the common unifying language (Imperial Aramaic) effectively set Assyria apart from the rest of the world and created a feeling of unity and solidarity within the 45 country. his own bishop and the holy men of his neighbourhood” (Mango 1980. 531b). In modern literary Arabic. 5-7 and rev. In classical Syriac. Alba 1990. and above all. 1793 and 1809-1810. spoke different local languages. but all of them pledged allegiance to the same king. is generally recognized to have “promoted in both east and west a consciousness of being Roman that lasted until the fall of the Empire. The common religion.. a lingua franca born from the interaction of numerous ethnic groups and therefore serving as a unifying rather than separating factor. Rūmī still means both “Roman” and “Byzantine”. Cf. which granted full Roman citizenship to the entire Roman Empire. culture. world-view and value system. 43-56. by contrast. Cf. 47 and sometimes beyond it”. The shaping of Assyria and its national identity has an obvious parallel in ancient Rome. 44 45 46 47 48 letter SAA 18 80 (compare obv. i. 30). any memory of the ethnic roots of his ancestors had long since faded out or become irrelevant as a 44 result of mixed interethnic marriages in several generations. . a citizen of the Eastern Roman Empire” (Payne Smith 1903. This was not the language spoken by ethnic Arameans but a creation of the Empire. Alba 1990. Honoré 1996. The inherent notion of “us” against “all the others” that came with this dichotomy―Aramaic was not spoken outside the Empire―agreed well with the dualistic ideology of the Empire. 11-12. The Antonine constitution of AD 212. Rhūmōyō continued to mean “Roman” or “Latin”. It should be noted. which likewise expanded from a city to a world empire. the Byzantines still identified themselves as Rhōmaioi and were known 48 as Romans to all nations of the Near East. Imperial Aramaic. Oded 1992.National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in.15-16). Kazhdan 1991. 2-3 of this letter with SAA 16 126:1920 and 127 r. worshipped the same national gods. however. and had thus started his career as “prelate” (šatammu) of Uruk under Esarhaddon. and only rarely “a Greek. dressed differently. 15 and often cosmopolitan but nonetheless thoroughly uniform and Assyrian wherever he went. and venerated different local gods. The analogy of Rome is instructive also in showing how deeply the national identity of the Empire could become rooted even in areas far removed from its original core. Centuries after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Assyria was the only world he knew. people in different parts of the country practiced different customs.. that the average Syrian Monophysite was not so much moved by imperial doctrines and identity as by “his loyalty to his own Church.

iššaššūme → šaššūme. though they also apply it to the W. 75-76. 121-122. the toponym Sūrīya also covered Mesopotamia and Assyria (= Sūrīya barōytō. when the Aramean tribes first came into contact with the Assyrians. The common Aramaic word for Assyria. Syrians call themselves.g. 37. for references and many more examples see Parpola. ammār → mār. Parpola 1974. 223. issēgalli → sēgallu. 370). attested in alphabetic writings of personal names containing the element Aššur in late seventh century BC Aramaic 49 50 51 52 Payne Smith 1903. ikkillu → killu. reflects this pronunciation and in all probability dates back to the twelfth century BC. Aššūrāyu. Hämeen-Anttila 2000. SI. 3. this name form later also had a shorter variant. (“A Syrian. ibid. as evidenced by the use of a single set of cuneiform graphemes (ŠA. addurāru → durāru.1 The Neo-Assyrian Origin of Syriac and Modern Assyrian Sūryōyō/Sūrāyā The word Aššūrāyu is an adjective derived from the geographical and divine name Aššur with the gentilic suffix -āyu. another sound shift took place in Assyrian. turning the pronunciation 53 of the name into [Assūr]. Note that in classical Syriac. 2004 3. [Sūr]. or MA ti-ru ( = [θīru]) for *šīru “flesh” and ut-ra-a-aq for *ušrâq “he will thresh” (Mayer 1971. E. Maclean 1901. 53 54 . no. § 40i). SAAB 2 (1988). annāka → nāka. as can be easily established from a closer look at the relevant words. The shift [š] → [θ] was an internal Assyrian phonetic development leading to the merger of /š/ and /θ/. The Continuity of Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times In this context it is important to draw attention to the fact that the Aramaicspeaking peoples of the Near East have since ancient times identified themselves as Assyrians and still continue to do so. That the merger resulted in /θ/ not /š/ is proved by variant spellings like OA I-ri-tim (= [Iriθim]) for normal I-ri-SI-im (genitive of Irišum.16 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies.). 371 s. 2. § 17). Sūryōyō and Sūrāyā. Vol. where /θ/ (< */š/) is rendered with graphemes normally used for writing the alveolar stop /t/ and its fricative variant [θ]. Syrians or Jacobites” (ibid. Āθūr. are both derived from the ancient 51 Assyrian word for “Assyrian”.v. 61-66. See notes 38-39 above. Uppūmu→ Pūmu. issunaka → sunnaka. § 40a). The self-designations of modern Syriacs 49 50 and Assyrians. Luukko 2004. Since unstressed vowels and even whole syllables 54 were often dropped in Neo-Assyrian at the beginning of words.. 52 its pronunciation was turned to [Aθθūr] in the early second millennium BC. Palestinian”).“Farther Syria”. ammāka → māka. Fales 1986. Towards the end of the second millennium. but owing to a sound shift. with a palato-alveolar fricative. This name was originally pronounced [Aššūr]. cf. Hecker 1968. ŠU) for both /š/ and /θ/ in Old Assyrian (Hecker 1968. 18. “This is the ordinary name by which the E. Appendix III.

dINNIN. see PNA 1/I. 84:40. *Šarru-(a)šarēd is not attested in Neo-Assyrian).19.51. all referring to the same person). 6. The Greeks. but its existence is raised beyond any doubt by the NA spellings of the Urartian royal name Sarduri [Šārdūri]. The variation [Assūr] ~ [Sūr] has a perfect parallel in the NA forms of another important divine name. that this usage is not entirely consistent: in Cyr.25 and 26. 55 56 57 srgrnr = Aššūr-gārû’a-nēre. As in the case of [Sūr].8.15. 1. the western part of the former Assyrian Empire.4. the short form [Šār] is effectively concealed behind the prodominantly logographic or ossified cuneiform spellings of the divine name ((d)15. 5. and mdI[Š. dIŠ. thus likewise had a shorter variant [Sūrāyu] in the seventh century. 49 r.24] and Assyria proper.16..5.2. Note. had the Assyrians themselves not omitted it. the Assyrian “heartland” to the east of Aθūrā [Cyr. 5. Strabo) use the two forms interchangeably.11). AECT 31) and in NB spellings of the Neo-Assyrian name Issār-tarība (mdiš-šar–ta-ri-bi. no. mdšár–ta-ri-bi. xxv. 5. the former being the more common form in older (6th-century) texts.33. not Assúrioi. KAI 234 = Fales 1986. implying the short form [Šār]. PNA 1/I 155b.15-BÀD-a-ni = Sarduriani in ABL 147 = SAA 5 97 r.TAR-du-r]i LUGAL KUR. 4. The Neo-Assyrian word [Assūrāyu]. 4. 8.22]).ur-arţi in Streck 1916.ú-ra-ar-ţi-im-[ma].12. note m15-BÀD LUGAL KUR.10.5. 5.24 and 27. mšar–ta-ri-bi. 6. 17 55 documents from Assyria.2. 1. Assyria and Syria are mostly free variants in classical Greek and Latin texts (Nöldeke 1871).TAR). ABL 1240:4-5). the short form [Šār] is also explicitly attested in Aramaic alphabetic spelling (cf.2. would not have borrowed the word without the initial A-. 2.5.1.7-8. šrdrq’l = md15–BÀD-qa-a-li [Iššār-dūr-qāli]. 5.(Assúrios/Assuría) and ones without it (Súrios/Súros/Suría.4.5.e. the “Neo-Babylonians” are exceptionally referred to as Súroi. 4.5).e. i. 58:4. Fales 1986. the NeoBabylonian Empire) and Suría (= the former Assyrian Empire [Cyr. 1. Like [Sūr]. srslmh = Aššūr-šallim-ahi. since omission of initial vowels is not a feature of classical Greek phonology. and mdIŠ. Xenophon generally distinguishes between Assuría (= Achaemenid Aθūrā. which was also realized as [Šār] in Neo-Assyrian.1. mdiš-šár–ta-ribi. who were in frequent contact with Assyria in the eighth and 57 seventh centuries BC.2. 2. md15–ta-ri-bi. 26 and 30.4.24 and 6.11 and 25). Ištar (NA [Iššār]).5. which display a corresponding variation between forms with initial A. but its existence is confirmed by the classical Greek words for Assyrians and Assyria. 740 BC.4.27.11).1. INNIN-du-ri or sa-ar-du-ri in the Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions (see PNA 2/I 568f. 4 (cf.. 5.. srsrd = Aššūr-(a)šarēd.TAR–ta-ri-bi. Rollinger 2001.3.3. 5. and continue to be found in the letters and inscriptions of Sargon II (721-705) and Assurbanipal (668-630.2. for the latter.4. KAI 236 = Fales 1986. 47:2.g. This variant is hidden behind standard orthography in Assyrian cuneiform texts. 5.6. 1. others use either Syria or Assyria. “the Assyrian” (Cyr.4. no. i. . see Zadok 1984. which is written varyingly as m(d) md m 15-du-ri. The “rebus” spellings m(d)15-du-ri and mdINNIN-BÀD/du-ri. see Appendix 56 III).2.1.2.National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in. 6. or “the Assyrian who holds Babylon and the rest of Assyria” (Cyr.4.4. “Assyrian”..56. 5. are already attested in several inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III from c. Some authors (e. no. however. 4. note also the spelling URU. He calls Nabonidus and Belshazzar “the king of the Assyrians” (Cyr.

praised fear of God and King as the highest moral virtue. The phonology of Sūrāyā (Sūrōyō) thus implies that this term.in Sūrāyā/Sūr(y)ōyō cannot be due to internal Aramaic development but must go back directly to Neo-Assyrian. 2004 Phonologically. Frye 1997. which the Aramaic-speaking Assyrians shared with their Akkadian-speaking fellow citizens. the eastern one into the hands of Median kings. it cannot be regarded as a loanword but as an indigenous self-designation. the eastern one as the 60 satrapy of Media (Māda). in perfect agreement 58 with the Modern Assyrian Sūrāyā. 4-5. at the same time. Modern Assyrian Sūrāyā perfectly agrees with Neo-Assyrian [Sūrāyu]. It is worth noting that Sūrāyā is reported to have a variant with initial A-. This was no problem in Assyria. In 539 BC. which was borrowed into Aramaic when Assyria still was an alien society. Vol. but its people. In marked contrast to the resolute integration policy of the NeoAssyrian kings. The Aramaic Sayings of Ahiqar. the western half falling into the hands of a Chaldean dynasty. both became incorporated in the Achaemenid Empire. . which is crucial to the identity of the present-day Aramaic-speaking peoples. According to Yildiz 1999. 24. 104. when the Arameans already were a fully integrated part of the Assyrian nation. which it shares with Greek Súrios and Suría. while Syriac Sūryōyō displays an intrusive yod. no.18 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. Parpola 2000b. Since omission of initial vowels is not a feature of Aramaic phonology. the western one as the megasatrapy of Assyria (Aθūrā). The political power of Assyria was gone. In contrast to the word Āθūr. This intrusive yod surely is due to Greek influence. whose population continued to venerate the Great King as the source of peace and security. but this is avoided in careful speech. the lack of the initial A. writings of Sūryōyō and Sūrāyā are occasionally preceded by the vowel sign alap with a linea occultans above indicating that this alap is not to be pronounced. entered the Aramaic language in the seventh century BC. being set at the Assyrian royal court.2 The Continuity of Assyrian Culture under the Achaemenid Empire With the fall of Nineveh. culture and religion lived on. a popular collection of wisdom composed in the Neo-Assyrian period. 2. 3. 18. since it 59 instinctively sounds incorrect in view of the classical Syriac Sūryōyō. the Achaemenids did not interfere in the internal affairs of their 61 satrapies as long as the flow of tribute and taxes continued undisturbed. since in classical Syriac the word also occurs in the form Sūrōyō. Dandamayev and Lukonin 1989. the Empire was split in two. they continued to boost the Assyrian identity of the 58 59 60 61 Syriac /ō/ goes back to Old Aramaic /ā/.

National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in. see also Meissner 1917. they inevitably began to assimilate 69 to the local population. Imperial Aramaic continued as the lingua franca of the 64 Empire. Xenophon. Grelot 1972. are depicted as Assyrians in the sculptures of Darius (Seidl 2000). Levine 2002.49.16. Thus everything went on just as before. The Achaemenids. The last king of Babylon. their kingdom was a continuation of the Assyrian Empire. 3. Nabonidus. Although the times of Assyrian hegemony were over. evidently as a chauvinistic reaction against the 66 Chaldean dynasty from which he had usurped power. 147-161. Assyria became the power 68 base of the Seleucid Empire.3 Assyrian Identity in Hellenistic and Roman Times Under the successors of Alexander the Great. calendar and imperial standards imposed by the Assyrians remained in force 65 everywhere. they adopted the administrative methods of the Achaemenids and on the whole respected the local traditions. and the judicial system. Eph‘al 1988. reverted to Assyrian royal titulary and style in his inscriptions and openly promoted Assyrian religion and culture. Crone and Cook 1977. 64. Herodotus 1. Cf. the satrapy of Aθūrā kept Assyria on the map as a political entity and its inhabitants as Assyrians in the eyes of the contemporary world. Parpola n. 1. both of whom claimed to be Nabonidus’ sons.. Paradoxically. Eph‘al 1978.5. The 210 years of Achaemenid rule thus helped preserve the Assyrian identity of the Aramaic-speaking peoples. Also note that the two pretenders to the throne of Babylon in 522-521 BC. who themselves were significantly 63 Assyrianized. which at its largest covered much the same area as the Assyrian Empire previously. Dalley 2001.d. felt no need to change the existing realities. 87. Parpola 2003a. Nylander 1968.8 (citing Titus Flaminius). Steiner 1993. Dandamayev 1997. local religions and cults were tolerated. . 1. 129-130.1. Even though the Seleucid kings pursued an active policy of hellenization and laid great stress on their Macedonian origins. Parpola 2002. 19 62 population. Cyr. who was of Assyrian extraction. 222-187 BC] were all Syrians”. It is called “Assyria” (Ašūr) in the Dead 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 Lindenberger 1985.188.4. Mayer 1998..2 and passim (cf. Livy 35. in due course. 343-344). To the contemporaries. No wonder the Greek 67 historians Herodotus and Xenophon remembered him as an Assyrian king. On the continued popularity of Ahiqar among the Aramaic-speaking peoples of the Near East in later Christian and Islamic times. the Aramaic script―now called the Assyrian script ―was the everyday writing system. Millar in Kuhrt and Sherwin-White 1987. “The armies of Antiochus III [the Great. See F. the period of massacres and persecutions following the fall of Nineveh seems to have strengthened their national and ethnic identity.

and notes that it “has also been called Atyria in the language of the barbarians. and the stelae of the local rulers resemble those of Assyrian kings in the imperial period (Andrae and Lenzen 1933.6. passim. no. 13. Vol. which may have resulted in the establishment of a short-lived Roman province of ‘Assyria’ (Millar 1993. according to Josephus (Ant. especially p. see Segal 1970. with the Iranian name Nersai. Ištar. is mentioned in the Syriac Doctrine of Addai (line 65).” It was the target of Trajan’s Mesopotamian campaign (AD 116). Porter 2000a. 18. 2004 71 Sea Scrolls and in the Babylonian Talmud. AD 350). e. especially pp. Nabû and Nergal continued to be worshiped in Assur at least until the early third century AD.20-23) and Pliny (HN 6.41). echoed the fate of Tammuz. and which was felt as intrinsically Assyrian because of the Aramaic affinity of Jesus and the disciples.16. 187-202. A “king of the Assyrians” contemporary with Tiberius. its western remnants were annexed to Rome. whose central ideas were in line with the central tenets 74 of Assyrian religion and ideology. The exaltation of Christ to the right side of his heavenly Father echoed the exaltation of the saviour god Ninurta/Nabû. see also al-Salihi 1983. 9-61. 191-193.6. Ant. which was after Seleucus. 121-123. 186-190 and the literature listed there. Nanaya. Adiabene.6. 2. and “the kingdom of the 72 Assyrians” (Assuríōn basileía) in the Antiquities of Josephus. As late as in the third century AD. Adiabene extended from Lower Zab to Armenia and included the cities of Arbela and Nineveh in the Assyrian heartland. idem 2001.3). For example. Cassius Dio (68. .26. the king of Adiabene at the time of Trajan also had an Iranian name (Dio 68. and Assyrian religion persisted 70 71 72 73 74 1QM 1:2 and 6 (The War Scroll). 20. These 73 kingdoms perpetuated Assyrian cultural and religious traditions but were also receptive to Christianity. “the great healer”.5). When the Seleucid Empire disintegrated at the end of the second century BC. Hatra. 15. For Edessa/Osrhoene in the Balikh valley. the passion. Assur) popped up in the East under Parthian overlordship. the local cultic calendar was that of the imperial period. while several semi-independent kingdoms of decidedly Assyrian stamp and/or identity (Osrhoene. 1. the temple of Aššur was faithfully restored in the second century AD. The Roman West likewise perpetuated Assyrian traditions. got the dominion over Syria”. idem 2000a. 13). “the good shepherd”. Reade 1983.4) calls Adiabene “a district of Assyria in the vicinity of Ninus”. Steiner 1993. See Parpola 1997. 101). whose victory over death and sin was likewise celebrated in an annual festival and proclaimed as “good tidings”. who was called Nicator. Aggoula 1995. Annus 2002. king of Ātôr” in Sasanian times (c.20 70 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. the double S being changed to T. For Hatra (Neo-Assyrian Haţallu) see Niehr 1998. 207. mentioned in the Syriac Acta Martyrum. personal names at Assur and Hatra were still completely in line with Neo-Assyrian onomastics. Bel. redemptive death and resurrection of Christ. On “Sennacherib.g. “170 years of the kingdom of the Assyrians. see Novák and Younansardaroud 2002. The gods Aššur. “the good shepherd”. its king Izates (AD 36-60) also controlled Nisibis. According to Ammianus Marcellinus (23. pl. cf. Šerua. see Appendix IV.26. who was annually wailed in former Assyrian territories well until the fourth century AD and even beyond.

. to miscall these imitations inventions of your own. It is worth emphasizing that while Assúrios in Roman times could refer to an inhabitant of the Roman province of Syria. Cease. To the Babylonians you owe astronomy. 54-73. in Mardin even until the 18th century AD. O Greeks. See Chwolsohn 1856.. however. Lucian and Tatian.. 75).” Note that this anti-Greek attitude is not limited to Tatian. These persecutions and 75 76 77 78 79 80 Lucian. Parthian and Egyptian sources of the Roman period. likened it to poison. Roman Syria is consistently 78 and unmistakably referred to as “Assyria” (Asorik‛. This self-identification is commonly misinterpreted to imply nothing more than that these writers were ethnic Syrians (in the modern sense) speaking Aramaic as 76 their mother tongue.National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in. which 77 they proudly and defiantly contrasted with the Greek culture. the Assyrians embraced Christianity in increasing numbers. whose father was a pagan priest in Nisibis]. ensure that individuals will come fully to the defense of the collective identity that they see as fundamentally constitutive of their selves. That heritage was Assyrian. such attacks could be seen as an assertion of a still vigorous local Syriac culture” (Green 1992. ’swry’. Tatian’s Address to the Greeks begins: “Be not. It is perfectly clear from the contexts. Hämeen-Anttila 2002. The single-minded adherence to the Christian faith from late antiquity until the present time has made Christianity an indelible part of Assyrian identity. The Assyrian Identity Today From the third century AD on.. that they were specifically referring to their native identity and cultural heritage. No “Syria” in the modern sense existed in antiquity. and most recently at the hands of Arabs.. magic. it basically meant “Assyrian”. Steiner 1993. ostentatiously identify themselves as Assyrians (Assúrios). Kurds and Turks. even though the Assyrian religion persisted in places like 79 80 Harran at least until the tenth. to the Egyptians. Compare Hall 1999. then. 43-61. 460. so very hostilely disposed towards the Barbarians. then at the hands of the Sasanian Persians. to the Phoenicians. See Frye 1992. In the second century AD. 38: “The fundamental (even primordial) motive of self-preservation will . but it has also subjected the Assyrians to endless persecutions and massacres. in the fourth century. Millar 1993.. 151-156 on the “sun-worshippers” [Shemshiyeh] described by Carsten Niebuhr and Southgate. For which of your institutions has not been derived from the Barbarians? .. His hostility toward Greek .. to the Persians. Segal 1970. nor look with ill on their opinions. wisdom did not stem solely from religious antagonism. .. first at the hands of the Romans. Green 1992. two prominent writers from Roman Syria.. at least. Green 1992. geometry. 94-161. Ephrem [Syrus (AD 306373). De Dea Syria. ’Išr). instruction by alphabetic writing. 21 75 alongside Christianity in all its major cities until late Antiquity. 4. In Armenian. nothing else. “One of the most vocal critics of Hellenism. when they feel that collective identity to be endangered” (my emphasis).

When a portion of the Church of the East became Catholic. It is the only identity that can help them to transcend the differences between them. a term inevitably associated 85 with the Babylonian dynasty that destroyed Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire! Disunited. no. to Bethlehem. catch the attention of the world.. The fortunes of the people that constitute it have gone different ways over the millennia. Ironically. 18. Mar Raphael I Bedawid. but they have also helped it survive through the millennia. which had cloisters and bishoprics all over the ancient homeland. the Patriarch comments on the name issue as follows: “I personally think that these [different] names serve to add confusion. 333. but ethnically. many 83 nobles tracing their ancestry to the Assyrian royal house. my sect is Chaldean. Hagiographic sources such as the Syriac Acta Martyrum show that the Assyrians of the Parthian period took pride in their glorious past. We have to separate what is ethnicity and what is religion. 81 82 83 84 85 86 Personal estimate. and as dwindling minorities without full civil rights in their homelands. Crone and Cook 1977.. as members of the Chaldean Catholic Church established in 1553. while the Assyrians in the East have since ancient times been under Iranian cultural influence. 81-85.. the name given was ‘Chaldean’ based on the Magi kings who came from the land of the Chaldean.. 94-101. published in the Assyrian Star 55/3 (Fall 2003). 501-502. 2004 massacres have reduced the total number of Assyrians from an estimated 20 81 82 million or more in antiquity to well under two million today. split into rivaling churches and political factions. dispersed in exile. In an interview with the late Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church. I myself..” Aprim 2003. While innumerable Assyrians have been forced to change identity in order to survive. Today. Vol. The Nestorian church of the seventh century AD. chauvinistically asserted its 84 Assyrian identity. The original name of our Church was the ‘Church of the East’ . Novák and Younansardaroud 2002. 55-56 and 189-193. They have decimated the Assyrian nation. the Assyrian nation largely lives in diaspora. including Nineveh in the eparchy of Atūr. they must now unite under the Assyrian identity of their ancestors. . speak with one voice again. The Syriacs in the West have absorbed many influences from the Greeks. In order to survive as a nation. 20. and regain their place among the nations. I am Assyrian. Vööbus 1970. and their identities have changed accordingly. the Assyrians of today are in grave danger of total 86 assimilation and extinction. Gewargis 2002. Deniz 1999. many modern Assyrians originating from central Assyria now identify themselves as “Chaldeans”. others have rather chosen martyrdom than denied their Assyrian identity and faith.22 Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies.. 2. [T]he name ‘Chaldean’ does not represent an ethnicity.